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We're over the moon for the Ovale Collection by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for Alessi. Since teaming up more than a decade ago, when they were in their 20s, French brothers Ronan and Erwan have consistently developed furniture, interiors and products with an eye for spare form and experimental ideas that have resulted in critical acclaim internationally, museum showcases and two monographs books have been published about their design work. Their roster of design-minded clients include Issey Miyake, Guilio Cappellini, Vitra, Kvadrat, Ligne Roset and Alessi—who in 2010 began put this stunning stoneware and stainless steel tableware into production. It’s the brother’s idea of re-imagined tradition, rustic gone minimal, for every day and every meal use. Buy all, buy one at a time. The ice bucket is especially sublime.
A name nearly synonymous with modern Italian design, Alessi defined the post-modern 1980s with its superstars Philippe Starck and Michael Graves. However, the company was actually founded almost 100 years ago in 1921 by Giovanni Alessi, as a tableware workshop producing items in nickel, chromium and silver-plated brass in Valle Strona in the Italian Alps. Son Carlo Alessi, trained as an industrial designer, brought modernism to the fore in the 1930s and later his brother Ettore Alessi began the practice of collaborating with outside designers.
By the 1970s, the company teamed with the likes of Achille Castiglioni and Ettore Sottsass before ushering in its most iconic decade. Now under Carlo's son Alberto Alessi, collaborations continue with a new generation, including Jasper Morrison, Mario Botta and Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec. "A true work of design must be able to move people," says Alberto, "to convey feelings, to trigger memories, to surprise, to go against the grain."
RONAN + ERWAN BOUROULLEC
“There’s always teamwork in design,” says Erwan Bouroullec and he would know as half of the acclaimed creative duo with brother Ronan. “For most designers, the first time they have to explain or justify their work is to the manufacturer,” he says. “By then, we’ve spent weeks, maybe months, arguing over the tiniest details.” Born in Brittany, the brothers Bouroullec are among the brightest lights in European furniture design, heralded as the biggest French presence since 1980s icon Philippe Starck.
Fellow designer Jasper Morrison praises the brothers’ work as “thoughtful and disciplined, with a real spirit and poetry.” Recently awarded the prestigious London Design Medal, they’ve been showcased at venues as diverse as Los Angeles’ own Museum of Contemporary Art, Villa Noailles in Hyeres and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Their most successful design projects are often the most contentious, Ronan says. “Usually our work is strongest when we disagree, because that’s when we push each other to go further.”
Photo credit: ©Morgane Le Gall